Features Business Research
Casting a niche net

September 4, 2019
By Alyssa Dalton

Hearst Magazines’ new MagMatch solution will use first-party data to track readers’ online behaviour to understand what products they are interested in, and will then work with the brand of that product to deliver the reader a targeted ad through the print magazine. Image: Elle Magazine

Hearst Magazines, one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, recently announced a new product designed to help its advertisers reach potential customers through targeted print advertising. Created by Hearst Data Studio, MagMatch will use first-party data to track readers’ online behaviour to understand what products they are interested in. It will then work with the brands of those products to deliver customized ads to the same readers through the print magazine.

The first brand to buy into the ad offering is skincare company StriVectin, and the print ad – which addresses the subscriber by name and includes a brief message from the magazine – will be available with the latest issue of Elle.

“Researching and shopping for skincare is a personal journey. We’re always looking for ways to make 1:1 connections with consumers…Harnessing the power to target and personalize the insert took a great campaign concept to the next level,” said Alison Yeh, Chief Marketing Officer at StriVectin in a statement.

The MagMatch ads could also appear in other Hearst brands, according to Adweek, including Car & Driver, Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Food Network Magazine. Charles Wolrich, Head of Hearst Data Studio, told Adweek that under MagMatch, a magazine like Car & Driver could distinguish whether a reader should receive a print ad for a SUV or a sedan, depending on their online behaviour. While most subscribers aren’t logged onto Hearst’s magazine websites, the company anonymously matches their behaviour through third parties, he explained.

With many advertisers in the same market segments, Elle publisher Kevin O’Malley told Adweek the offering is a way for Hearst Magazines to stand out from the crowd. “It’s not just about scale. It’s about mining and creating audience segmentation within that,” he said.

As author and entrepreneur Seth Godin puts it: “Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behaviour as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.”

Trends in customer trust by Salesforce Research reinforces the notion that brands can win more business by creating personalized customer experiences — a message we’ve heard for some time now. Based on a survey polling over 6,700 individuals from more than a dozen countries including Canada, the 2018 report finds consumers are demanding greater personalization and will often disclose the kind of personal information needed to create more personalized experiences if they feel the business is being transparent about how the data is used.

“Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era defined by continuous technological innovations that are transforming customer expectations. As lines between digital and physical worlds blur, today’s customers demand deeply relevant, personalized experiences across devices, channels and interactions,” according to the report. “In fact, the average customer uses 10 different channels to communicate with companies. Despite this, today’s customers expect tailored engagement across all channels.”

Fifty-four percent of respondents say the marketing messages they receive aren’t as relevant as they would like them to be – suggesting that some companies drastically need to improve their personalization capabilities – while 84 percent say “being treated like a person, not a number” is very important to winning repeat business and maintaining brand loyalty. “Customers expect businesses to understand not only what they are purchasing, but why, as well as how they use products and services, and they expect it fast,” the report reads.

The majority of survey respondents say they are willing to share personal information if it is used to deliver more personalized engagements, and expect that personalization to be coupled with transparency. What’s more, 51 percent of respondents across all age groups say they are comfortable with companies “applying relevant information about me in exchange for personalized engagement,” as compared to 64 percent of millennials and Gen Zers.

What’s interesting is 86 percent of total respondents – and 91 percent of millennials and Gen Zers – say they are more likely to trust companies with their personal information when they explain how it is being used to deliver a better experience for them, suggesting that strict security and privacy protocols alone may not be enough to dispel fears of data misuse and breaches.

“As time goes on, businesses will contend with a more savvy customer base that expects greater personalization, along with respect for the data they swap for it,” the report concludes.

This editorial was originally published in the September 2019 issue of PrintAction, now available online.